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Pentagon says North Korea’s missile test flamed out

Apr 06,2017
A senior official from the Pentagon reportedly said Wednesday that North Korea's latest ballistic missile test ended in failure and refuted official statements from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the U.S. Pacific Command about what kind of missile it was.

Citing an unnamed source from the U.S. Defense Department, AP wrote that the "rocket spun out of control and plunged into the ocean in a fiery crash."

Based on U.S. imagery and assessments, "the extended-range Scud (Scud ER) missile suffered an in-flight failure and fell into the sea off North Korea's east coast," the news agency continued.

"Unlike the KN-15, which uses solid fuel, the missile fired Wednesday used liquid fuel and was fired from a fixed location, rather than a mobile launcher," the official said.

The JCS told local media Wednesday, shortly after the launch, that the missile appeared to be a KN-15, also known as Pukguksong-2 in North Korea, which is way more technologically sophisticated than a Scud ER.

The U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement around the same time that initial assessments showed the missile was a mid-ranged KN-15. The success or failure of the test was not mentioned by either side on Wednesday.

Asked about the comments from the Pentagon official quoted by AP, a PR official from the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday morning during a press briefing that "more time was needed to verify whether the missile test had succeeded or failed."

On the Pentagon's assertion that the missile was a Scud ER, not a KN-15, the PR official, who asked for anonymity, said the South Korean and U.S. militaries "do not think differently from yesterday."

Pyongyang, which normally boasts of any successful missile test through its state-run media the following day, has yet to mention anything about Wednesday’s test.

North Korea conducted its fourth missile test this year Wednesday morning by launching a projectile from the eastern port city of Sinpo in South Hamgyong Province at around 6:42 a.m., which peaked at an altitude of 189 kilometers (117 miles) and flew 60 kilometers for nine minutes before landing in the East Sea, according to the JCS.

The first test of the year was an intermediate-range KN-15 on Feb. 12 that reached an altitude of 550 kilometers and flew 500 kilometers before crashing into the East Sea. South Korean authorities later admitted that "significant progress" in the North's missile technology was exhibited.

In the second test on March 6, four Scud-ER missiles were fired, three of which fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone. They all reached an altitude of about 260 kilometers and flew 1,000 kilometers.

The third, an intermediate-ranged Musudan missile launched on March 22, crashed shortly after take-off.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]